Last Saturday I was totally booked with two very different events. First I had volunteered to cheer on the veterans who participated in the Soldier Ride that was put on by the Wounded Warrior Project and was held in Rose Haven, Maryland. I thought it would be a good way to give back to the community and I have relatives who were or are currently serving in the military. (One uncle and one cousin served in the Army. One nephew and another cousin are currently serving in the Navy. I also have a former brother-in-law who served in the Army for a few years back in the 1990’s and he was sent to the Balkans as a peacekeeper during the war in Bosnia.)
I also have empathy with those who can’t use their limbs any more because I suffered through a hip replacement surgery in 2008 and hip revision surgery in 2011 and I know what it’s like to be unable to move as much as you want because you’re in too much pain or the offending joint is too stiff and just won’t cooperate. I am grateful for the two surgeries because the alternative would’ve been to give up walking entirely.
So I woke up very early in the morning and made the hour-long commute so I would arrive just before the start of the Soldier Ride. I even managed to take a few photos with my smartphone camera.
Rose Haven is a very picturesque town on the Chesapeake Bay, which provided lots of lovely photo taking opportunity before the Soldier Ride began.
The participants in the Soldier Ride gathered together at the start of the ride.
There were different kind of bikes available to the veterans that catered to their disabilities.
The participating veterans do some warm up exercises before getting on their bikes.
And they’re off! The veterans begin the Soldier Ride.
My role was to cheer them on as they started their ride along with other volunteers. It was a pretty cool experience and I would do it again. (There’s a really good story about the Soldier Ride along with interviews with some of the participants on NPR’s site. There’s also a USA Today story about how the Soldier Ride’s participants were invited to meet President Obama at the White House. That’s great that they were given such an opportunity since they have sacrificed a lot for this country.) Unfortunately I couldn’t stay to cheer them as they reached the finish line two hours later because I had another appointment and I had to make an hour’s drive plus a Metro ride to my next destination. As I was driving away I came upon some slow traffic that resulted from the Soldier Ride. I took advantage of the stopped traffic to take a couple of final pictures.
I was able to make a turn on another road that got me away from following the Soldier Ride and I drove to the Metro station nearest my home then took the subway to Crystal City, Virginia. A few days ago I decided to take part in Artomatic 2012 so I registered online and I was given a scheduled orientation time of 1 p.m. on the same day as the Soldier Ride. It could’ve been worse, at least I wasn’t given any of the earlier orientation times that would’ve conflicted with the Soldier Ride.
I managed to arrive about 20 minutes early and I was directly herded into one of the earlier orientation sessions that was just starting. So I was able to finish the session earlier and I reserved a wall on the 10th floor for my exhibition. As I was leaving I took a few photos with my smartphone camera, which provides a bit of a preview of what to expect when Artomatic opens to the public on May 18.
Just a few feet from the Crystal City Metro station on South Bell Street there is an Artomatic banner pointing the way.
The building that will house the Artomatic event is located a block away from the banner.
Here are some pansies that are planted in manicured gardens outside the future Artomatic building.
UPDATE (January 28, 2016): In the nearly four years since I volunteered for the Soldier Ride, I’ve recently learned about the financial scandal involving the ride’s sponsor, Wounded Warrior Project. While I still don’t regret participating in the Soldier Ride back in 2012, I would volunteer for a similar event in the future only under one of the two conditions: 1) If it was sponsored by a different nonprofit that is more ethical and less lavish in its spending or 2) If the Wounded Warrior Project itself makes a sincere and easily verifiable effort at internal reform that addressed its lavish and wasteful spending.